Dublin’s spoken word scene continues to grow. On any given night, crowds gather in pubs, wine bars and cafés to hear the intimate verbal yarns of their peers. Topics range from the comedic tales of bad dates to anger induced musings inspired by social injustice. Audiences intently listen and at times the quiet is interrupted by laughter, stomping feet and finger snaps signalling agreement of what has been said.
Felicia Olusanya (aka FeliSpeaks) has been writing poetry since she was 12, and she has been performing spoken word for just two years. In that short time, her powerful words have managed to resonate with audiences alike and she has since performed on stages at Electric Picnic, The Olympia Theatre and The National Concert Hall.
Getting her start in the college poetry scene and slam competitions around the city, she has witnessed the scene grow first hand.
“The spoken word scene in Dublin is like a family… It’s very communal and underground. Gratefully it’s been expanding beyond its underground nature and appearing in places like Dublin Fringe Festival.”
Her Fringe show, in collaboration with fellow spoken word artist Dogogo Hart, is a story about a young man’s evolution from childhood to adulthood and his learning how his masculinity influences those around him, especially the women in his life.
This will be Olusanya’s first collaborative spoken word play and she and Hart will act as both performers and narrators of the piece alongside other actors.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing poems and creating art with my pen and it will always be a something that will forever be a part of me, but I think that the performance end of it is new for me, so I’m still quite wide-eyed about it and currently it is my favourite part. Seeing my poems evolve past words and into action and seeing how my inflection, how my tone, how my body language translates the poem is really a fun part of the entire thing.
Both Olusanya and Hart are part of Dublin’s Word Up Collective, which features acts from Ireland’s burgeoning hip-hop and urban scene and helps provide artists with more exposure. She met Hart at Bello Bar following one of her performances, and the creative process between the two artists developed organically.
“We just hung out at his house and bumped heads and things came out… It was also inspired by a project that he is working on personally, so we decided to make a play out of it.”
Both artists, originally from Nigeria, are part of a generation of Irish artists who are using their unique perspectives to draw influences from their indigenous cultures and mix that with their current experiences to tell a distinct story.
“There’s heavy Nigerian influences without distracting from the beauty of the poetry.”
Words: Rose Ugoalah
In The New Theatre preview Wednesday September 12. Opens Thursday September 13 – Friday September 14 @ 20:30, with matinee performance @ 15:30 on Saturday September 15th.